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Reader's View: Innovative bus routes already in Twin Cities

I think some clarification is needed after reading the Jan. 2 article, "Is Duluth candidate for innovative bus concept?"

The term bus rapid transit, or BRT, is used loosely in the United States, but the Twin Cities area has a few routes considered BRT based on local standards.

The University of Minnesota Transitway is a dedicated roadway for college buses shuttling students between the East Bank and St. Paul campuses. The frequency of buses is as high as every five minutes. The service is free, so fare payment isn't needed.

The Red Line operates between the southern suburb of Apple Valley and the Mall of America in Bloomington. At the Mall of America people can transfer to the Blue Line light rail to access the airport and downtown Minneapolis. The Red Line doesn't have dedicated roadway, but there are shoulder lanes buses can utilize during traffic backups. However, frequency is only every 20 minutes, and the fare must be paid on board, so it can barely be considered BRT.

The third BRT route in the Twin Cities area, the A Line, is actually called arterial bus rapid transit, or ABRT. While buses operate in mixed traffic on the entire route, frequency is every 10 minutes, designated stations are used with larger shelters, the buses have different branding from regular buses, and this route utilizes ticket machines at stations for off-board fare payment.

There currently no BRT in Burnsville, Minn., but the Orange Line is being planned as BRT between Burnsville and Minneapolis on the Interstate 35W Corridor beginning in 2021.

The Gold Line, to operate between St. Paul and the eastern suburb of Woodbury in 2024, will be the first true BRT route in Minnesota with dedicated roadway on almost the entire route and buses every 7½ to 10 minutes, off-board fare payment, and designated stations with larger shelters.

Eric Ecklund

Bloomington, Minn.

The writer graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in urban studies with an emphasis on transportation planning. He also has used bus rapid transit routes in the U.S. and Europe.